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b) What are i) the prime causes of and ii) the most effective remedies for dryland degradation?

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Desertification a) Why is the term "desertification" so hard to define? (10) Desertification is so hard to define because nobody is actually that clear about what it really is. The word was coined by a Frenchman, Aubr´┐Żville, in 1949 as he attempted to describe the change to more desert-like conditions in humid areas adjacent to the Sahara. However this definition has since been outdated and at the last survey now over one hundred different ones exist. The one which is currently accepted by most is according to the UN "land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities." However even though this definition is broad enough to satisfy most other questions are still raised about it. For instance, can desertification occur in a non-dryland area? It might be argued that in parts of south east England there is the potential threat of desertification yet the climate is by no means dry sub-humid. b) What are i) the prime causes of and ii) the most effective remedies for dryland degradation? (35) i) One of the largest causes of desertification due to the knock on effects it has as much as its own actions, is the overgrazing of land. ...read more.


The World Bank has estimated that sustainably harvested fuelwood in arid areas can support just two thirds of the population. Salinisation is another prime cause. Problems are caused by the wasteful use of water: by applying more than can be taken up by plants, through leakage from improperly lined drain canals, and as a consequence of inadequate drainage. The salt tolerance of most cultivated plants is relatively low meaning that salinisation results in a slump in productivity economically but also a lack of vegetation. Most irrigated land suffers from a degree of salinisation but poor techniques in LEDC's such as Pakistan have cost it greatly. 80% of Pakistan's cropland is irrigated and 35% of it suffers from salinity resulting in it losing 40,000ha of irrigated land per anum. There is one other real cause of desertification and that comes under the category of climate change and variation. Within this I would class things such as drought, which on an isolated scale may not necessarily have a great effect but when working in synergy with the other factors can accelerate and indeed make far worse the process of desertification. ii) The best two ways of countering desertification are through the provision of water and fixating and enriching the soil. ...read more.


A similar approach has been adopted in parts of Africa with a green wall built from Senegal to Djibouti. In 1995, a Frenchman called Jean Meunier created something which is known as BOFIX. There is a simple principle behind this which when used effectively can have the power to manipulate any dune no matter what the size. His idea was to creating localised eddying winds by planting semi-permeable fences, therefore disrupting the wind pattern and dismantling the dune. The second part of his plan was to plant trees on the areas where the dunes had collapsed to stabilise and enrich the soil there meaning the dunes were unlikely to occur there again. He conducted his original tests in Mauritania, where the capital city Nouakchott is in danger of being swallowed by dunes. Using the aforementioned ideas he has successfully been able to protect houses and roads by harnessing the incredible power of the wind. In 2007, the UNCCD adopted a '10 year plan' to counter desertification which has become known as 'the Strategy.' They have four aims in this which are to: i. Generate global benefits ii. Improve livelihood of affected populations iii. Enhance productivity of affected ecosystems iv. Mobilize resources As this only came into play so recently it is hard to see the effects it has had but hopefully in the future we will be witness to the good it is doing. ?? ?? ?? ?? Cameron Benge (H) ...read more.

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